Meet Lawreece: For most of Lawreece's life, it didn't seem urgent to save money for the future. That all changed three years ago when she had a son with cerebral palsy - a condition that will require funds to help manage special needs and treatments. "My number one priority became helping him develop and be independent. I knew that saving would help make that happen," Lawreece says. Lawreece signed up for EARN's savings program to help her save for her son's future. Saving with EARN has totally transformed Lawreece and her family's life, enabling her to build an ever-growing fund for her son.
A Berkeley native, Lawreece works for a home health agency, where she's a caregiver for elderly adults. She heard about EARN through a Rubicon career center, where a financial coach suggested she try it out. The incentives, she says, "were what drew me in. I had endeavored to save in the past, but I hadn't been that successful." Saving money was "always like a circle" for Lawreece – put money away, dip into savings, and start over again.
When she started saving with EARN, she committed to the program and to not touching her savings. She made daily sacrifices to save money: "I didn't buy anything at all for a long time."
It wasn't easy. Lawreece had loved to shop for her son – buying clothes, shoes, and other things like that. But after six months of no unnecessary purchases, she was stunned by how much she was able to save. EARN, she says, made her accountable for saving her money, and month after month, "I watched my savings grow." Six months of saving "showed me the bigger picture" – that all her small expenses, when put together, could go toward something more important.
When EARN's six-month program ended, Lawreece was just getting started. She set a new goal for herself – a lofty one: to save $5,000. When she met the goal even earlier than she expected, it made her realize, "I can really do this," and she adjusted her goal up to $10,000.
"It's all for my son," Lawreece says, "He's the motivation for everything."
A financial coach at Rubicon, where Lawreece learned about EARN, once told her: "You have to pay yourself back." Now that she's saving for her family, she thinks about that advice often. "This is how I'm paying myself back," she says. "Our family deserves this. We work really hard, and now with savings, we're able to benefit from that."
Lawreece says she's still "amazed how much EARN helped me." She'd tried other programs, and this "was the one that kicked down the door for me." Now she tells the young people that she works with that they should always save whenever they can. "Just start with EARN," she tells them. "Start with six months. Six months will come and go quicker than you can remember."